I love the promises of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “All the promises of God have their ‘yes’ in Christ Jesus.” It means God keeps his word. He proved it through Jesus. I like that. It’s comforting to know that when God says, “I forgive you,” he means it and won’t take it back. When I’m afraid, anxious, or worried I can trust that he is with me and working all things for my good because in his Word he says so. But there are some promises from God I could live without.
2 Timothy 3:13 says, “But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.” That’s a promise I’m not too thrilled about. There’s another like it, “In this world, you will have trouble…” (John 16:33). I don’t need trouble. I prefer the other thing! How about John 15:19, “…because…I chose you out of the world, the world will hate you.” Isn’t it nice to be in the ‘popular’ crowd? What about 2 Timothy 3:12? “…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” These are all promises I can live without.
I don’t like the idea that evil people and impostors will flourish. I hate to be lied to. I don’t like to see the people I care about conned by self-deception or by the clever half-truths of others. My sense of justice comes out. It bothers me to think that with pure motives and good choices I could do all the right things and still be disliked, hated or even persecuted for it. Shouldn’t doing the right thing make things easier? If it doesn’t make life easier or better, why bother?
But there’s a difference between God’s promise of salvation and this promise of persecution. The former comes from God’s overwhelming desire for you and me. It’s an active promise initiated and paid for by God through Jesus. He made the promise and has moved heaven and earth to keep that promise. The promise of persecution isn’t about a word to keep, but a fact to recognize. Like the laws of nature, there’s no active promise here, just the unwavering confidence that what goes up must come down. Gravity’s effect will always keep you down to earth even if your head is in the clouds.
The promise of persecution isn’t God’s way of punishing or provoking. It’s a simple statement of fact. “This will happen. Get ready, watch out, plan your response, trust me.”
It’s an old cliché, but it’s true, “When you’re squeezed, what’s in you is what comes out.” God warns us of persecution, he tries to communicate to us a reasonable expectation for how people will react to Him and His people. He doesn’t candy-coat it. He doesn’t oversell it. He simply says, “This will happen.”
As difficult as living through that kind of pressure may be God doesn’t stop there. He makes deeper promises. John 16:33 ends, “…be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” 1 John 4:4 reminds us, “…greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.” The end of 2 Timothy 3 outlines the tools God has given to help us remain faithful. He’s given us his Word. We have one another. We can remain faithful, we can hold on, even when holding on is hard or painful. I’ve always thought that faithfulness gives us a front row seat to all the promises of God. It’s through the pain and persecution that God writes the epic story of salvation in you and me.
When you face the promise of persecution will you trust God to keep His word? Hold on and experience your front row seat to all the promises of God.
Help me hold on. Thank you for the promises you’ve made and kept. Thank you that I know for certain you can be trusted. Help me to be trustworthy as well. When I face opposition, rejection, pain or persecution, allow me to respond in a way that honors you and adds value to others. Help me encourage those who are being deceived. Help me fight those who are deceiving. Help me enjoy this epic story you’re writing in me.
I love you, in Jesus name –